Michael KreponMorality and the Bomb

The 1980s were a time of recreational shopping, “morning in America,” and a rare, public debate in the United States over the morality of nuclear deterrence. A high-octane confluence of events contributed to this intense moral debate — the first since the use of nuclear weapons to end World War II. The Reagan administration embraced a doctrine of “prevailing” in a nuclear war with the Soviet Union (which Caspar Weinberger famously defended by arguing, “You show me a Secretary of Defense who’s planning not to prevail, and I’ll show you a Secretary of Defense that ought to be impeached.”)

The United States and the Soviet Union were both accelerating strategic modernization programs, bilateral nuclear negotiations had broken down, mass demonstrations against the Reagan administration’s nuclear policies filled the streets in the United States and Europe, and scientific studies posited that a “nuclear winter” would likely result from large-scale nuclear exchanges.

How serious was this debate? Here’s an indicator: the Catholic Bishops weighed in with a pastoral letter, The Promise of Peace: God’s Promise and Our Response.

One passionate debater was Jonathan Schell, who wrote two elegantly argued books calling for nuclear abolition — The Fate of the Earth (1982) and The Abolition (1984). My shoe box offers the essence of Schell’s argument:

Now, in spite of all we have learned and achieved – or rather, because of it – we hold this entire terrestrial creation hostage to nuclear destruction, threatening to hurl it back into the inanimate darkness from which it came… The fruit of four and a half billion years can be undone in a careless moment.

The choice is really between two entire ways of life. One response is to decline to face the peril, and thus go on piling up the instruments of doom year after year until, by accident or design, they go off. The other response is to recognize the peril, dismantle the weapons, and arrange the political affairs of the earth so that the weapons will not be built again.

The moral cost of nuclear armament is that it makes of all of us underwriters of the slaughter of hundreds of millions of people and the cancellation of future generations.

Unless we rid ourselves of our nuclear arsenals a holocaust not only might occur but will occur”

Joe Nye wrote a rejoinder to Schell and the Catholic Bishops. His slim volume, Nuclear Ethics (1986) is an exercise in moral reasoning that sometimes reads like a Sunday school lesson. Among Nye’s arguments:

The first step in moral reasoning about nuclear weapons should be not to expect too much. Once the moralists enter the realm of contingency, they must tread carefully.

Good moral reasoning is three-dimensional and includes considerations of motives and means. Considering consequences is a necessary but not sufficient basis for sound moral reasoning about nuclear weapons.

Nye offered five “maxims of nuclear ethics:”

MOTIVES:
1. Self-defense is a just but limited cause.
MEANS:
2. Never treat nuclear weapons as normal weapons.
3. Minimize harm to innocent people
CONSEQUENCES:
4. Reduce risks of nuclear war in the near term
5. Reduce reliance on nuclear weapons over time.

Serious stuff. There have been no similarly intense national or international debates over the morality of nuclear deterrence since the 1980s. Many reasons account for this, starting with the end of the Cold War and deep reductions in nuclear weapons.

One notable aspect of the current abolitionist wave is that it is powered by national interest arguments, not moral considerations. Is this a good thing, or a bad thing?

Comments

  1. J House (History)

    “Unless we rid ourselves of our nuclear arsenals a holocaust not only might occur but will occur”

    Well, we have had several ‘holocausts’ in the 20th century, before and after the advent of nuclear weapons.
    It seems human nature seems to get in the way, regardless what technology we use to kill one another.
    I’d add that in the 60+ yrs since nuclear weapons were invented, there has not been a single nuclear exchange between nation-states that possess them.However, if one looks at the previous 60 yrs, the world went through 2 wars at the cost of tens of millions of lives.
    Those ‘conventional’ weapons seemed to have done the job quite well, although with far less economies of scale.
    One could argue that nuclear weapons have guaranteed the peace that ‘conventional’ weapons could not.

  2. Jeffrey Lewis (History)

    J House:

    I don’t agree with the argument, but that is terribly well put.

    J

  3. FSB

    “One could argue that nuclear weapons have guaranteed the peace that ‘conventional’ weapons could not.”

    This argument is false on several counts:

    1.

    The fact that we have not used nuclear weapons in 60 years does not imply that they are not subject to accidental, inadvertent or mistaken use. statistically, a 60-year timebase of no nuclear war only implies that the there is roughly 95% confidence that the chance of nuclear war is within 0-6% per year — somewhere around 3% per year chance of nuclear war is completely consistent with the data of no nuclear war over 60 years, yet it is way too high a risk for humanity to carry.

    Nuclear weapons have not guaranteed anything.

    See Martin Hellman’s work for more details.

    2.
    Yes, there have been no World Wars since nuclear weapons — but there have been many high-intensity conflicts involving proxies of the superpowers: Nuclear weapons made the superpowers into cowards. They no longer faced off each other directly but instead destroyed a series of piddling dirt-poor sorry peasant nations (Angola, Greneda, Afghanistan, Vietnam, etc etc etc.). Nuclear weapons have had a corrosive effect on our very ethos, even the ethos of war. Even now, where is the sole superpower emeshed? Iraq and Afghanistan! The ~1million Iraqis who have died as a direct or indirect result of the war would probably disagree that nuclear weapons have made the world a safer place.

    Lastly abolitionists would do well to not talk about going to zero, but rather going to 10, or 30 nukes. It is too easy to criticize zero.

  4. J House (History)

    Suppose nuclear weapons were yet to be invented? What would the post-WW2 history of the world have looked like for the past 60 yrs?
    There may have been a bloody war in Europe between the Soviet Union and the U.S., or a full-scale Pakistan-India conflict…or perhaps another M.E. war to try and weaken or destroy Israel.
    The threat of nuclear retaliation gives rational decision-makers great pause.
    It could be argued biological weapons are as great a threat to mankind than nuclear weapons, especially considering the technology is more widely available, the possibility of the loss of control and the fact that some can spread silently and rapidly through a population, with deadly effects.
    A genetically modified mousepox virus released in the wild is far more dangerous than a MIRV’d SS-18 sitting quietly in its silo…probably more destructive than 10 cities wiped out by that same missile.
    Fortunately, it takes maniacle forethought to unleash them on a population….I suppose we’re just not there yet.

  5. FSB

    “The threat of nuclear retaliation gives rational decision-makers great pause.”

    It gives them great pause to face-off each other with nukes, yes — but not to completely destroy a series of dirt-poor, peasant nations that act as their proxies for the occasional venting of their arms.

    Nukes have not ended mass-murder by the superpowers.

    Further, the empirical risk of accidental, inadvertent or mistaken use are still too high to tolerate.

    These risks could be lessened by going to few tens of nukes each, while still preserving a minimum deterrent.

  6. Alex W. (History)

    It’s hard for me, at the moment, to think of an instance in which strong claims to morality have ever had a strong effect on national security debates in the U.S. context. I tend to think not. On the whole, there seems to be a strong bias towards the ends-justify-the-means approach when it comes to such issues. Arguments that have centered on, say, security considerations or economic analyses strike me as having had far more traction, though this is a very off-the-cuff analysis. Morality is this instance is such a slippery thing — I find it very hard to find any of the general positions as having an unambiguous, unproblematic moral high ground.

  7. Andrew Tubbiolo (History)

    National interest should be the main filter to decide arsenal levels. The spiritual arguments of the 80’s totally undermined the very basic fact that suicide is not in the interests of any nation, and it causes one to ignore the fact that any nation like the US or USSR are driven to it. The moral movement is in my opinion a spiritual retreat from the intellectual ambiguity of taking any move in the nuclear arena. Going to zero has gains and losses, going to cold war levels has gains and losses. The argument only becomes concrete after an exchange.

    FSB said that “Nuclear weapons have had a corrosive effect on our very ethos.” I could not disagree more. While under check by the Soviet Union the United States was a much more intelligent power. In a world with a Soviet Union, we would have never invaded Iraq, 9/11 most probably would not have happened thus no U.S. involvement in Afghanistan. Sure Europe would still be split. It’s not the nuclear arsenal that gave the neo-cons freedom to take over the Republican party and act out their nightmare. It was overwhelming conventional power and the loss of the governing quality of the armed opposition that forced the political parties to maintain a balancing force against the ideologs. The Soviets called the R-36/SS-18 the Voevoda (Military Governor). How fitting a name it worked, we were governed.

  8. Andy (History)

    J House,

    Nuclear weapons certainly played a role, but I’m wary of elevating them to the level of causality that you do. Additionally, 60 years is, IMO, too little history to base predictions on.

  9. J House (History)

    There must be some material benefit to developing and stockpiling nuclear weapons as a deterrent-why do otherwise rational leaders of nation-states continue to seek or possess them?
    Surely it isn’t only national prestige and a mark of technological prowess that they do so.
    They know that in that 60+ yr time period, no nation has ever been invaded, conquered or annihilated that possessed them.
    FSB, you are right…the calculus shows a statistical confidence that they will be used again one day, and that there are grave consequences for their use (even if accidental).Post-WW2 history is short in the span of human history.Time is not on our side.
    I disagree though that the world will come to an end when that day comes, God forbid.Mankind will be reminded that nuclear weapons are terribly effective, as they did after Hiroshima and Nagasaki…until a more destructive technology comes along.
    FSB made a point that 1+ million Iraqis/Iranians have died in conventional wars, despite our being a nuclear superpower, implying that there was no value to nuclear weapons since conventional wars were fought anyway, directly or by proxy.That is a false argument-their purpose has neve been to deter or prevent all war, but to deter a foe from invading, conquering or annihilating you with conventional or nuclear force.It is hard to argue for that purpose, perhaps not a guarantee, it has worked so far.
    I also will not argue nuclear weapons have ‘made the world a safer place’.They have only assured a nuclear nation’s survival.
    If Iran or Iraq (or both) would have had the bomb in 1979, there may or may not have been an Iraq-Iran war…but I wouldn’t necessarily argue that would have made the world any safer.
    Nuclear weapons exist…they cannot un-exist.They are terribly effective implements or tools, to be used by human beings at their will.
    Fortunately, they are so darned hard and expensive to make, unlike bio weapons, which are far lower hanging fruit for miscreants.

  10. FSB

    Andrew,
    I clearly meant that nuclear weapons contributed to the fact that, instead of fighting each other on their own soil, the US and USSR vented their Cold War rage conventionally and massively on 3rd-world nations since they were (properly and rationally) cowardly of confronting each other — a clear breakdown of the ethos of war, as I define it.

  11. Tyler Wigg-Stevenson (History)

    Nuclear weapons will never be moralized out of existence, perhaps most fundamentally because there are very few people in any era willing to decide questions about their own security based on a moral abstraction.

    That said, morality has an vital role to play in the current abolitionism: you just have to know what to ask it to do. Morality complements the security and technological arguments: i.e., we must abolish for our safety (security), we can abolish verifiably (technology), and we should abolish because it is consonant with our deepest values not to threaten indiscriminate destruction. Must-can-should: a powerful triad.

    In this alignment framework, the moral argument doesn’t drive the show, but it does perform two critical functions: 1) it gives agency on the nuclear issue to non-specialists (i.e., the electorate) who cannot arrive at independent security/scientific judgments but who do have moral conviction, and 2) it gives zeal to the same people, enabling them to treat abolition as more than a sterile policy calculus (like, say, a budget debate over a fighter jet).

    Finally, I’d note that the moral argument for abolition may be stronger than ever. Let’s say that the non-use of a nuclear weapon is a moral good. During the Cold War, one could make a good-faith case that deterrence was the best way to attain this moral good; one could also make a good-faith case for disarmament.

    That’s not the case today. Given that deterrence theory can’t handle asymmetric, non-state-actor threats; and, given that these are precisely the kinds of threats that become inevitable (eventually) in a proliferated world; and, given that proliferation is incentivized by a lack of movement toward abolition — therefore, anything but movement toward abolition makes the (immoral) use of a nuclear weapon more likely. Nye’s concern for contingency doesn’t apply with an iota of its earlier force. Hence, the 21st century argument for multilateral disarmament and abolition has a moral clarity that it never could attain during the Cold War.

    PS An aside: J House’s argument is a classic example of post hoc ergo propter hoc; it doesn’t prove anything. You can’t extrapolate an argument from history that juxtaposes three fundamentally different eras (WWs vs. Cold War vs. post-Cold War/9-11), with radically different geopolitical and economic contexts.

  12. FSB

    J-House: “Nuclear weapons exist…they cannot un-exist.”

    yes, but we can get by with much fewer.

  13. Andrew Tubbiolo (History)

    — Tyler Wigg-Stevenson · Jul 31, 03:19 PM ·

    “and, given that proliferation is incentivized by a lack of movement toward abolition — “

    … I wonder if that’s the case. In a word with much fewer nuclear weapons a new nuclear power would enter the word much closer to parity with the established powers. I think that assertion is logic neutral. In a nuclear-heavy world, aggressive powers will want the bomb to deter. In a nuclear-light world they will want them to project power.

    Nuclear arms control makes sense from a de-alerting/stability and cost perspective as well the need to minimize accidental/unauthorized use and the consequence.

  14. George William Herbert (History)

    The whole morality question is the reason I am for NMD.

    Deterrence by holding a fireball of damocles only a missile’s flight time away from anyone of note is not moral. To be an effective deterrent we have to be willing to nuke cities again; I don’t want to be part of a generation that does that. And I don’t put provocative or assaulting moves sufficient to trigger a US WMD response beyond several nations or transnational groups, at some point in the forseeable future.

    NMD makes the most likely “warfighting” attack (missiles) less reliable and more likely to simply fail – and thus less likely to have to be retaliated against. NMD doesn’t require us to be willing to blow up someone elses’ cities in order to deter aggression, it deters by making the aggression less likely to succeed (ignoring consequences of the aggression).

    I do not in my heart believe that the technological and geopolitical preconditions for a verifyable zero level will exist in my lifetime, and I expect to live to near the end of this century. As long as nukes are there – and as long as a breakout is within technological, economic, and geopolitical feasibility – I suspect we’ll have to maintain a sufficient deterrent level to make breakout less valuable.

    But putting that hand in hand with a non-retaliatory deterrent, a functional defense rather than merely retaliation, would be more moral. If we can chose to “ride out” an attack, large or small, we have less reason to overreact during or afterwards.

    There are a lot of people who are against NMD who feel that MAD is somehow a better and more moral solution – I feel that’s frankly insane, from a moral standpoint (no personal offense intended to anyone).

    NMD as is may not be right – but the idea of missile defense is better than purely retaliatory nuclear deterrent.

  15. Robert Merkel (History)

    Suppose nuclear weapons were yet to be invented? What would the post-WW2 history of the world have looked like for the past 60 yrs?

    I would have thought that, in that case, chemical, radiological, and biological weapons would have been developed during the Cold War to the point where their ability to cause mass civilian casualties were not substantially different to nuclear weapons anyway.

    As far as I am concerned, it is essentially impossible to do away with humanity’s ability to destroy itself; the concern in the medium to long term is that the barriers to gaining that ability will get much lower than they are now.

  16. Muskrat

    I’ve never understood the NMD-as-replacement-for-retaliation argument. It assumes that if North Korea launched a missile at Hawaii, we’d be essentially forced to nuke them if it hit the islands, but if it was intercepted we would… what? Laugh and say “no harm, no foul”? Send them a stern diplomatic note? Nonsense. We’d consider hostilities to have re-opened and proceed accordingly. Conversely, if a NORK missile did hit Hawaii, by what mechanism would we be forced to use nukes to retaliate? Isn’t it much more likely that we’d attack and destroy the regime with conventional forces?

    The key to deterrence is not the release of nuclear radiation, it’s the certainty of our ability to make the attacker pay an unacceptable price.

    Since no conceivable missile attack is both a) small enough to be handled by any envisaged NMD system, and b) large enough to destroy our ability to retaliate via conventional means, NMD is a nullity for deterrence purposes. It cannot defeat an attack that would disable us, and any attack that did not disable us would be dealt with via non-nuclear means.

    As for the argument that we’d use the assurance of NMD to allow us to “ride out” an attack, well, I’m pretty sure we’d already ride out a NORK attack. Under any foreseeable START follow-on we’ll have 1,000 or more deployed warheads. Neither NORK, Iran, or even China can pose a “use them or lose them” threat to such a force. Russian forces, on a good day, with a stiff tailwind, might, but the idea that we need to worry about “launch on warning” and “riding out” here in 2009 is unrealistic. Heck, we ought to be de-alerting our missiles so we’d be forced to “ride out” any attack from any source anyway.

  17. FSB

    GWH:
    NMD as proposed has never been tested realistically against countermeasures. And even a 100% effective system can be outwitted by the offense.

    We need a Red Team vs. Blue Team test of the system to really bring out the “Fallacy of the Last Move”.

    It is also hugely expensive.

    “An ineffective defense against a non-existent threat”
    -Former Defense Secretary Perry

    For more info see:
    http://docs.ewi.info/JTA.pdf

    4.7 Effective missile defense has proved an elusive goal since the development of ballistic missiles. Nuclear warheads make the requirements for defense especially
    stringent because a defense that is even ninety percent effective could hardly be judged satisfactory by the defending country, even though the attacker might
    well consider this to be a serious threat to his offensive capabilities. Missile defense is by its nature a competition
    between the offense and the defense, and to date the advantage has lain with the offense.

    Because it is a competition, the offense can be expected to take measures
    to destroy, overcome, or outwit the defense. One of the obvious ways to do that is to find alternative means of
    delivery for nuclear warheads: aircraft, cruise missiles, or less conventional means such as freighters entering
    a port. Here we consider some of the specific challenges facing the proposed European missile defense system.

    4.6 By contrast, the X-band EMR can observe warheads
    and decoys with a range resolution of roughly 15 cm.
    Such high-resolution data does not guarantee the ability
    to conclude whether an object is a warhead, decoy, piece
    of wire, or yet another object, but without this radar the
    system would have no chance of discerning possible
    diff erences in the signals from the many objects that
    could accompany warheads during an attack. The EMR
    is intended to perform the critical function of tracking
    enemy targets for the defense not only of Europe, but
    also of the United States.

    Technical details on the so-called missile “defense”:

    http://docs.ewi.info/JTA_TA_Defense.pdf

    The “discrimination” process thus has two steps – using the X-band groundbased
    radar to identify which cluster contains the warhead, and then using the
    separate and independent infrared sensor in the kill vehicle to identify the warhead
    within the cluster. If either completely independent process fails, the system will
    fail to intercept the warhead.

  18. Major Lemon (History)

    I don’t think there is any ethical difference in destroying a city by conventional or nuclear means. The question is ‘whether to do it or not’. There have been a few times in history when mass killing in war has been morally justifiable. The question of whether to use the sword, TNT or plutonium is one of military expediency only.

  19. anon

    “Peaceful co-existence is best maintained by being too tough to tackle.”

  20. FSB

    Anon,
    yes, our huge military has helped us tackle Iraq and Afghanistan very well indeed.

    Problem is, we tackle others with our offesive military, contrary to what the founding fathers intended for this country.

  21. Mark Gubrud

    FSB – Your statistical argument in point #1 above becomes dubious when you imply that 3% probability per year of nuclear war is the most likely or central value in the range suggested by the absence of nuclear war these past 64 years. You cannot draw that conclusion at all; the facts available are also fully consistent with almost no chance of nuclear war ever.

    The fact that nuclear war did not occur despite hot “proxy wars” in which US and Soviet agents and pilots shot at each other, despite military confrontation and shots traded during the Cuban Missile Crisis, despite Chinese-Soviet and India-Pakistan border wars, suggests that nuclear deterrence is a very real phenomenon, one that may push the actual probability of nuclear war very low, if one may even speak of such a quantity.

    Indeed, this picture of a static risk of nuclear war per year, per decade, per century, may be a completely useless way of thinking. The real risk of nuclear war, or holocaust, is a dynamic process which may at times steer into very dangerous confrontations but which is strongly constrained to avoid the line of no return and ultimately to seek stable resolutions.

    Alex W – The fact that US policy is not often decided on morality is related to the fact that our policy is so often immoral, and this is why we should evaluate our policies more on moral criteria, which many of us think will turn out to lead also to effective policies, ones which are viewed as just and win the support of people.

    That said, there is something fishy about priests and philosophers weighing in on the morality of nuclear weapons, deterrence, etc. Weapons have always been instruments of necessity, war an exigecy of survival. Deterrence is best understood as a fact stemming from the existential threat posed by nuclear weapons. We did not choose this condition. The United States first tried to use its nuclear “monopoly” to have its way, and soon found itself confronting an enemy who could lob nuclear warheads across the globe. MAD as a doctrine simply codified a fact that may have surprised the soldiers and airmen manning nuclear guns and missiles for years of cold war. The world stood poised at brink, but there it stood, and nobody wanted to push it any harder.

    It seems to me that the most important reason why there has not been a nuclear war in all these years is just that it is never a good time to destroy civilization and die a horrible death along with millions or billions of others. Today’s not a good day for it, and tomorrow isn’t going to be any better. Maybe you think in about five years, if China does this or that, but I’ll venture that when the time comes, it still won’t seem like a great idea.

  22. FSB

    MG: “…you imply that 3% probability per year of nuclear war is the most likely or central value in the range suggested by the absence of nuclear war these past 64 years. You cannot draw that conclusion at all; the facts available are also fully consistent with almost no chance of nuclear war ever.”

    No I did not imply that — you said I implied that.

    My sentence above is rather clear and it said: “a 60-year timebase of no nuclear war only implies that the there is roughly 95% confidence that the chance of nuclear war is within 0-6% per year.”

    Consistent with 0% and w/ 6% at 95% confidence. Also consistent with 1%, 2%, 3%, 4% and 5%. Any of those numbers are too high: a 1% probability of nuclear war per year would mean we can expect a nuclear war within the next few decades.

  23. FSB

    MG: “this picture of a static risk of nuclear war per year, per decade, per century, may be a completely useless way of thinking.”

    I disagree.

    You fail to consider deterrence failure. Accidental, inadvertent or mistaken use.

    Read Martin Hellman’s work, for example.

    Further a static risk upper limit is extremely useful in countering the argument that nuclear weapons have kept us safe. They have, but with a not insubstantial amount of luck, roughly codified by the static risk limits.

    Plus, you cannot deny or wish away the close calls such as the Cuban Missile crisis and the near-mistaken use of nukes.

    There is a very real risk to deterrence, and to deterrence failure.

  24. George William Herbert (History)

    Muskrat –

    NMD which was successful at intercepting a limited strike (say, NK firing up to 10 ICBMs at us) would enable us to chose a retaliation level rather than having us essentially forced by circumstances to nuke the northern half of that peninsula into the ocean.

    I believe that it’s unlikely that we would not respond forcefully and militarily to any attempted nuclear strike on the US, and don’t have any personal moral objection to doing so – I think it’s pretty much required, in order to protect us going forwards if someone does launch such an attack.

    But if our retaliation can be conventional, then that’s much better for world stability moving forwards. We have to wipe NK’s government and military capacity out under those circumstances, but we’d certainly have US civilian populace and international support for a massive conventional war, if we chose such a response.

    We could also chose a limited nuclear strike, which carefully avoided any strikes near NK population centers. Bad for those downwind in SK and Japan, but not as bad for the NK population as an all out, flatten-everything-of-military-value-regardless-of-population attack.

    If one of those ICBMs lands in Seattle and detonates a nuclear warhead, or Anchorage or Honolulu, then it’s a lot harder to justify anything short of an overwhelming counterattack.

    US civilian casualties of less than 4,000 people got us Afghanistan’s war, and were the underlying shift that got us directly acting against Iraq as well. Ten, a hundred, a thousand times more would be much worse. Against high population cities, even a 10-20 kt atomic weapon could have casualties in the 40-400,000 people range.

    NMD good enough to stop Russia from being able to ever nuke any US city would be prohibitive and would have to be either quantitatively much bigger or qualitatively much better than what we have now. But what we have now, perhaps somewhat enhanced, could give us the option to not kill 10-20 million people in NK or Iran if their leaders move ICBM and atomic weapon programs to completion and then in some future crisis fire them.

    If you place no value on those foreign civilians, then this isn’t that big a deal, but even if their governments go insane I don’t personally have a willingness to just write them off as humans with individual rights and value. Deterrence – and the willingness to use it in retaliation – is what you have and use if everything else fails. NMD is the last step in the escalation chain before one is forced to call it a failure, and retaliate. The moral value to NOT retaliating with WMD in the face of a small WMD attack on us, if NMD allows us not to do so, is high. The moral value to the world of our moving away from a retaliation-only response posture is high.

    The added value in terms of avoided US casualties is high, as well. A 20 kT atomic weapon detonated over Seattle, with a 3.3 M person metro area population, could result in 100-400,000 casualties. A the usual minimum $1 million value per life lost, that’s $100-400 billion dollars in damage, plus the property, disruption effects on survivors, etc.

  25. Helian (History)

    “One notable aspect of the current abolitionist wave is that it is powered by national interest arguments, not moral considerations. Is this a good thing, or a bad thing?”

    It is not a good thing or a bad thing, but a logical thing. Morality is an evolved trait that exists because it promoted our survival at a time when we existed as small communities of hunter/gatherers. Attempts to apply it to the nuclear weapons debate are logically absurd. The basic issue here is very simple. Is it desirable to survive? If so, how should we deal with nuclear weapons? That is generally how the issue is currently discussed (see the earlier posts in this thread) and that is the correct way to discuss it.

  26. duaneg (History)

    Morality of Nuclear Weapons? I prefer the remix.

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